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With the IPL back in action, fantasy sports platforms are ramping up ad spends

Given the online nature of the business, the lion’s share of the spend is expected to go towards digital advertising
Sep 2, 2020 / 12:44 PM IST

With play finally set to begin in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), online fantasy sports platforms are leaving no stone unturned to increase visibility over the course of the season.

The 13th edition of the IPL will start from September 19 and the final will be played on November 10. The tournament, which usually takes place in April, was delayed this year due to the Covid pandemic and this has impacted the business of many online fantasy sports platforms. But with the league back in action, these platforms are loosening their pursestrings when it comes to advertising.

The lion’s share of the spend is expected, as always, to be on digital ads. “Given the online nature of the business, we’ve seen OFS (online fantasy sports) operators spending 80-85 percent of their marketing expenses specifically on digital marketing,” said a spokesperson for the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS).

“Most sporting events are expected to take place with either limited or no in-stadia audience. So, digital sports fan engagement platforms like fantasy sports will play a pivotal role in driving fan engagement,” said the spokesperson.

A fantasy sports league is one in which users make up imaginary teams with real players. Users on the platform win or lose based on the actual performance of the players in their teams.

Opening the taps

“This IPL, we have increased our marketing spend by 5x as compared to IPL in 2019,” Varun Ganjoo, Marketing Director, Baazi Games, the parent of BalleBaazi, told Moneycontrol.

“IPL has been the prime focus of our strategies. And it has become absolutely imperative for us to go all guns blazing in this year’s IPL as the fantasy sports segment took a huge hit during the lockdown due to all live matches getting cancelled. In such unprecedented times, the IPL has come as an opportunity for us to grab the attention of the masses, especially the recreational crowd, alongside acquiring new users,” he added.

 BalleBaazi, which currently has four million registered users on its platform, plans to double its user base by the end of the tournament.

The platform has also come up with a campaign called #DumHaiTohYahanKhel. Recently, it also launched an event called BalleBaazi Fantasy Festival, which offers users a chance to get heavy discounts on its reward stores and play more leagues.

Online fantasy sports platforms have never shied away from spending heavily on marketing during the IPL to build a strong brand presence. According to the FIFS spokesperson, online fantasy sports platforms spent around Rs 2,293 crore in FY20 on ads.

Competition heating up

Another online fantasy sports platform called Fantasy Akhada is also significantly increasing its ad spends during the IPL.

“Advertising will be critical because there is so much competition in this space now. Plus, there is a lot of excitement because of Dream 11 taking the title sponsorship, which is also helping in eliminating the myths of fantasy sports being illegal,” said Amit Purohit, Founder, Fantasy Akhada.

The FIFS (Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports) spokesperson pointed out that Dream11’s title sponsorship for IPL 2020 will help make fantasy sports mainstream.

Purohit added that ad spends will go up 15x compared to the pre-IPL period as the engagement level is expected to grow 10-12 times on Fantasy Akhada during the IPL.

Data released by TAM Media Research, a TV audience measurement analysis firm, points out that Ecom-gaming (online gaming) as a category grew 5x during the last edition of the IPL on the back of Dream 11 and MPL’s heavy advertising spends.

Targeting new users

“The IPL brings new people on board … and through advertising one can ensure visibility among new users. Also, it is new users who drive time spent as they spend more time in making teams and they are willing to play the IPL rather than smaller leagues,” added Purohit.

Mobile Premier League (MPL), an e-sports and mobile gaming platform, is also increasing its ad spends during this year’s IPL. However, Abhishek Madhavan, VP, Growth and Marketing at MPL, did not share any numbers.

“The IPL is the biggest sports media property in the country and it’s a great chance for any brand to become a household name. We have already struck two sponsorship deals with KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) and RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and will be looking to maximise on those using TV and digital branding and advertising activities, added Madhavan.

Maryam Farooqui
first published: Sep 2, 2020 12:44 pm

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